How do I know what type of Doctorate degree in Nursing I should pursue?

It’s time to put on your scrubs and get busy… if you want to earn a doctorate degree in nursing. Well, perhaps scrubs aren’t absolutely necessary. In fact, pajamas are acceptable if you want to earn your degree through an online program. Online options promise convenience, flexibility and a quality education right from the comfort of your home. These types of distance learning opportunities are available at the graduate level, although, there may be some “on-campus” clinical requirements, as well. (Now’s a good time to put on those scrubs!)

An online doctorate degree program in the field of nursing will generally take you about four to six years to complete. Make sure your chosen online school is accredited before signing on. There are several types of doctorate degrees that you may choose from. We will review the two most popular choices to see which one will suit your needs the best.

The Doctor of Nursing Philosophy (PhD) degree program focuses on academics and research. You will be prepared to enter into the research field as a nursing scientist, however, if you decide to remain in public nursing, you can choose to select a specialty such as, a Pediatric Acute Nurse, Primary Care Specialist or in the role of a Nurse Practitioner.

If you would like to conduct independent research in the medical field, a PhD degree is the program for you, as well. In this capacity, one-on-one patient contact is limited, as you will be in the lab, most likely, making new discoveries in healthcare. They often are focused on helping patients through medical breakthroughs or by improving the healthcare system.

Are you interested in teaching a nursing program? At this level, permanent faculty members, such as professors, generally are required to have a PhD degree. If you intend to teach at the adjunct or instructor level, some colleges will hire you with a master’s degree. Typically, it will vary according to the institution’s preference.

Perhaps the most popular upper graduate level degree in nursing is that of the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP). If you enjoy the personal attention involved in a patient’s care, this is the degree for you. DNP recipients in a clinical practice specialize in problem-solving and are often liaisons between the patient and other medical professionals.

In general, after you have earned an online Doctor of Nursing Practice degree, most graduates work in a clinic or hospital setting, typically in a supervisory role. While conducting research, you will be responsible for developing new healthcare policies and procedures, managing other nurses and staff, in addition to, educating the public and patients on related healthcare issues.

Other doctorate degree programs to consider may be: Doctor of Nursing Science (DNSc), Doctor of Nursing (ND) or a joint program such as the MSN/PhD or BSN-PhD degrees.

Whether you are just beginning your nursing career, or you have advanced into a leadership position, nursing is a very rewarding and satisfying career choice and nurses are genuinely special people. The demand for those with medical knowledge is growing exponentially, therefore, earning your online Doctor of Nursing Practice degree will afford you many opportunities in an advanced clinical practice… and the accomplishment is one you can truly be proud of!

If you are interested in this field, please see our Best Online Schools for Doctor of Nursing Practice degree programs.